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Yuzuru Hanyu skates to gold for Japan.

Olympic Games News

Golden boy Yuzu leads Japan to 1-2 finish on perfect day

Date : 17 Feb 2018

Gangneung, Korea, February 17, 2018: It was the perfect day for Yuzuru Hanyu, the perfect day for Shoma Uno – and the perfect day for Japan at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Saturday. Not only did Hanyu, Japan’s figure skating prince, defend his Olympic title, Uno overtook Spain’s Javier Fernandez in the last skate of the day to win the silver medal and make it a sensational 1-2 finish for Japan in one of the Winter Olympics’ most prestigious events.

In the process, Hanyu – known simply as Yuzu - became the first skater in 66 years to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals, while also picking up Japan’s first gomld medal of PyeongChang 2018. To cap an extraordinary day, Hanyu became the 1,000th gold medallist in Winter Olympics history, according to the International Olympic Committee.

Hanyu, who had not competed for three months due to a right ankle injury in November, came into Saturday’s free skate with a considerable, if not commanding, lead from Friday’s short programme. Skating 22nd of 24 in the free skate, Hanyu removed all doubts over his stamina, fitness and technical precision by scoring 206.17 for a total of 317.85.

Next up was Fernandez, second overnight but who could not escape from Hanyu’s shadow and scored 197.66 for a total of 305.24 – occupying the silver medal spot behind Japan’s golden boy. The last to skate was Uno, Sapporo Asian Winter Games champion in February 2017 and who was in third place overnight.

After an early stumble, Uno turned on a magical performance as if he had nothing to lose and recorded 202.73 points. This took him to 306.90 – and the thousands of flag-waving Japanese fans in the arena had even more reason to celebrate as Uno moved up into second spot to make it a gold and silver double.

“I have no words right now. I am overwhelmed,” said Hanyu, who looked mentally and physically exhausted on finishing his four and a half-minute routine. Later he was in floods of tears after discovering he had retained his gold medal.

“I am just happy with my performance and my hard training and everything.” Hanyu would add later: “This is the best day of my skating life. My tears were from my heart. I can find one word and that is ‘happy’.” When asked how he coped with his fight to be fit for the Olympics after his ankle injury in November, Hanyu said: “I just thought ‘skate’. Just think about skating all day, all week, every day. And I had trust.”

At the age of 23, and with his superstar status in Japan and around the figure skating world enhanced by this supreme display of artistry and agility, the two-time world champion must surely be plotting for a golden hat-trick at Beijing in 2022.

One of Hanyu’s chief rivals in four years’ time could well be China’s Jin Boyang, who came fourth here with 297.77 and really impressed the crowds in finishing ahead of USA duo Nathan Chen (fifth) and Vincent Zhou (sixth) and Canada’s Sochi 2014 silver medal-winner Patrick Chan (ninth). 

Runner-up Uno said he had no special feeling about his silver medal at the time; he was focusing only on completing the programme he had prepared and producing the performance he knew he was capable of.

“I missed the first jump, but the rest of the programme was fine,” he said. “I stayed calm after the mistake and was able to give a good performance. I tried to skate like in practice. I tried hard for the jumps. I know the success rate is not that high, but I still wanted to try everything.”

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